Is The PS4’s “Share” Button Sony’s Worst Idea?



PS4 Controller

Playing video games has historically been a difficult hobby to have.

Sure, in the great pantheon of civil rights struggles, it’s not one of the all-time classics – nobody ever threw themselves under the King’s horse over Ms. Pacman, or had to endure Reading Jail for playing Tetris with the Marquis of Queensbury’s son – but it still took a long time for society as a whole to stop thinking of gaming as “a bit weird.”

There are still holdouts. Actor James Woods is reportedly an avid Battlefield player, and everyone thinks that’s surprising and unusual, because surely a man of his age and celebrity couldn’t possibly enjoy a massively popular game like that. “Games are for kids,” your subconscious reminds you, even though they’re not. “They aren’t be played by serious, Oscar winning actors,” even though there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be.

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This societally enforced self-loathing from gamers is by turns frustratingly defeatist and richly justified. For every moment of soulful art that gaming brings us to prove that this is a medium for adults, there’s at least one other asshole having a tantrum on W.O.W. over some perceived nerd-slight.

What gaming really needs to gain respect is almost impossible; a consistent run of intelligent, thought-provoking games that really have meaning. This is unlikely (how many films, for example, are actually any good?!) and deeply improbable, as the money will invariably be in C.O.D. clones and FIFA titles.

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Adding to the woes of adult gamers is the news that the upcoming PS4 will feature a “share” button.

The idea behind Sony’s proprietary gimmick is that it will allow you to upload to social media any footage of, say, a particularly impressive kill or a hidden area of a level you’ve found, or a new and interesting form of carnage you’ve caused in a sandbox game.

This ignores the fundamental fact that gaming is designed specifically as an immersive experience for the player. The whole thrill of gaming is to make you feel like an expert sniper, or a champion fighter, or a race car driver, or a guy brushing his teeth.

Rain Teeth

Watching other people perform these actions is nowhere near as fun.

Social media has suffered enough in recent years from pointless updates about social media based games (as opposed to pointless updates about literally everything else, but that’s another issue). We all know the resounding feeling of “who cares?!” to be gleaned from a relative’s Farmville update or a distant school acquaintance’s latest victories on Candy Crush. Do we really need to add the entire Sony canon to the list of things clogging our Facebook feeds?

If anything, sharing clips of your own gameplay will revive the stereotype of the sad, nerdy gamer that took so long to shake off in the first place.

Playing video games has been a popular pastime for thirty years. Watching video games has never taken off.

Sony would do well to think about why.

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